Letter: Experience Matters

Letter: Experience Matters

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Last month I celebrated my 70th birthday.I have spent my entire life living, working and serving in the City of Alexandria, and I sometimes feel like I can never fully express how much I care about this community without coming across as corny. But I have been presented with and confronted by a choice in our election for mayor, and with some trepidation I write regarding the decision facing Alexandria voters.

I supported former Mayor Kerry Donley in the Democratic primary. He lost, but I still respect the process — that’s life — and politics.Vice Mayor Silberberg received more votes than either of the other two candidates, and the griping that some of her voters may have been “R’s” is just that, griping.It was an open primary and she won.

But I am also a big believer in competitive elections, and one of things that I absolutely abhor is elections by default.I wish that the Republican Party in Alexandria had nominated a candidate for mayor or that someone filed to run as an independent, but that did not happen. Up to this point I have neither supported nor opposed Bill Euille’s write-in effort, but the griping that he lost the primary and has no right to mount such a campaign is just that, griping. He has chosen to mount a serious effort because he believes that his vision and ideas are better than Allison Silberberg’s.Voters — all voters — now have a choice.That’s good politics.

Some people like to frame election choices as “good versus evil.” This election is anything but that. Two serious, caring public servants, with decidedly different skill sets and visions for Alexandria, both want your vote—one by a checkmark, one by writing on the ballot.I have made a decision to support Bill Euille, to write-in his name on the ballot, and to encourage others to do so, as well.Three important considerations led me to this decision.

First and most important is municipal finance. Everything we do as a city, every problem we want to solve, every need we try to meet is driven by our ability to manage our finances. We are landlocked by our boundaries (as is every independent city in Virginia), and taxes, debt, and spending are solely ours to manage.Harsh words maybe, but any candidate for public office who focuses his or her campaign on the “danger” of Alexandria’s current debt in my opinion disqualifies him or herself from serving in public office. Alexandria is not even remotely in danger because of debt, and when current or aspiring office holders just throw out numbers without context they are either deliberately misstating the facts or woefully uninformed.

My second consideration is Ms. Silberberg’s unwillingness to engage in debate with Mayor Euille.If she believes that her vision and ideas are the correct ones for the city’s future, then she should not be afraid to present them and defend them in public and under challenge.

The third and final consideration for me was the result of watching a recent City Council meeting when Vice Mayor Silberberg proposed a change in the disclosure requirements for elected officials. Her explanation was confusing, imprecise, clearly lacking in any consultation with her colleagues, and sounded more like a “solution” in search of a problem. This was an embarrassing, but recurring pattern to her time on council. Being the “1” in 6-1 votes may make you a hero to some people, but you become an outlier to most. This is not leadership. Leadership is persuading others to join you.

I am supporting Mayor Euille because the stakes are too high not to have an experienced, steady hand at the wheel and that is why I will write-in Mayor Bill Euille on Nov. 3.

David G. Speck

Member of the Alexandria City Council, 1991-94, 1996-2003, 2012.